Monday, June 27, 2011

Mall tenants in a bind

It’s official: Notices have been put up at The Mall to indicate a change in ownership.
News from: (By KHARLEEZ ZUBIN, 27/6/2011)
SEVERAL retailers at The Mall shopping complex near the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur have been issued eviction notices by the new management.
Spokesman for the retailers Melissa Tan said the new owners, Sunway Management Sdn Bhd, wanted them to sign a fresh tenancy agreement as they did not recognise the existing one with the previous owner. She said several eviction letters and ultimatums had put the tenants under tremendous mental anguish. “Now there are two management teams in The Mall with their own set of rules. Both management teams are invoicing the tenants. Sunway and Metroplex Holdings Sdn Bhd both have their own set of security guards, too,” she said. She added that tenants had registered a 70% drop in sales since the takeover due to “uncertainties”.
Ad hoc tenants committee chairman Datuk Ismail Samsudin, who is a jewellery retailer, said the tenants did not know who the rightful owner was. “They fear that if they don’t comply with the demands of the new management, water and electricity supply would be cut and they wouild be forcefully evicted,” he said.
The briefing was attended by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah.
“We have called the parliamentarians to help advice tenants on the action to take to safeguard our interest,” Tan said. Lim and Nurul advised the tenants to speak in one voice and engage legal advice. Lim, a lawyer, told the tenants that they could still continue to pay their bills but the money could be left in a stakeholder account until the matter was sorted out.
Tan said the problem started when the previous owner turned to the court to cancel the auction sale claiming irregularities.
But Sunway Group legal counsel David Lingam of David & Co said the KL High Court had dismissed Metroplex’s summons and deemed OSK Trustees Berhad, the trustees for Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust as the rightful owner. “By virtue of the takeover, the tenants under the previous owner are considered trespassers,” Lingam said, adding the court on compassionate grounds have given them some time to move out. Under the law, all previous tenancy agreements become null and void when a property is successfully auctioned off. “In this case, they are trespassers and they have to abide by the law and sign a new agreement with Sunway or they can be legally evicted,” Lingam said. Asked why Sunway being the rightful owner has not taken action to exert its ownership by evicting the previous management and its security guards from the premises, the lawyer said Sunway did not practice high-handed tactics.
It is also learnt that KL City Hall has revoked the operating licence of Legend Hotel, which together with The Mall and an office block form Putra Palace. The property was sold to OSK Trustee Bhd for RM513.95mil in March, about three years after it was first put up for auction. Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd put the property up for auction to recover loans given to property owner Metroplex. Lim Siew Kim, the daughter of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, founder of the gaming firm Genting Resorts, holds a majority stake in Metroplex.

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